WEST Cork rivals Castlehaven and O’Donovan Rossa will clash in this Saturday’s Cork LGFA junior B county final in Dunmanway (5pm throw-in).
The Haven and Skibbereen are no strangers to one another in GAA circles, and ladies football is no different. Those epic 2018 county junior C final drawn and replayed encounters – eventually won by O’Donovan Rossa – are still fresh in the memory.
Castlehaven enter this county final as hot favourites having seen off Bishopstown, Midleton, Mourneabbey B, Funcheon Gaels (semi-final) and most notably, O’Donovan Rossa by 4-18 to 2-6, to reach the decider.
Skibbereen have been hampered by the loss of inter-county star player Laura O’Mahony to injury but rallied to finish second in the group behind Castlehaven. That set up a last-four meeting with Watergrasshill which Rossas won convincingly, 3-13 to 0-10, last time out.
‘Our preparations have been going very well,’ Castlehaven manager Dinny Cahalane said.
‘We had a good win in the semi-finals (over Funcheon Gaels) and had a few challenge games coming up to it. We played intermediate clubs including Clonakilty, who recently won the intermediate title, and Bantry Blues as well.
‘I know that they are very strong teams but they were two good games for the girls to play in. So, preparations have been good and no injuries, thank God. Everything has been going well.’
Scoring has not been an issue for a Castlehaven attack that has racked up 26 goals and 61 points en route to this year’s county decider.
Despite that, the Haven have had to dig deep in some matches, none more so than a superb second-half effort to see off this weekend’s county final opponents.
‘The big thing for us this year is that the scoring has been spread out,’ Cahalane added.
'Whereas before, we might have been counting on one or two players, now we are averaging seven or eight different scorers a game which is good. Even some of the backs are coming up the field to score which is brilliant.’
Little doubt that O’Donovan Rossa will be underdogs on Saturday but that won’t deter Derek Tobin and his young squad from attempting to cause an upset.
‘Castlehaven are after having a great round-robin phase of the championship and set the bar for everyone else,’ Tobin admitted. ‘We are hoping that we have closed the gap a bit (since we last played) and will see how things go on Saturday. We learned a bit from the last day we played them but, in fairness, their experienced players really stood up in the second half of that game.
‘Laura (O’Mahony) has been brilliant for us over the last number of years and brings massive experience. Our team is very young and we only have three players over the age of 20. It is definitely a loss not having Laura with us this year but we will just move things around a bit and see how it goes.’